Over the Rainbow
5 Star Route / Ridden and Reviewed by Gravel Girl
Imagine the ruby-slipper-wearing Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz singing “Somewhere over the rainbow.” Well, over the rainbow is where you are headed on this ride: over the Rainbow Market, a place known for its own cultural experience.
This ride starts at the Flight Museum in Madras which is officially called the Erickson Aircraft Collection. (Yes, we have permission to park here and leave a car.)
The ride heads south for a short bit on paved roads, then meanders through double track gravel evolving into an old railroad grade from the turn of the 19th century. This canyon is just Wild West beautiful. // Read More
Note: You are one hell of a good cyclists if you make it through the short, crash-inducing rocky bits without playing “hike a bike” or foot dabbing.
You then hug the pristine Lake Simtustus shoreline until you reach Highway 26. This is when you sing Over the Rainbow (twice) for a quick two mile buzz downhill on wide shoulders to the Rainbow Market just outside of Warm Springs. (We really, really, really wish you could just click your heels three times and skip the highway section.)
At the Rainbow Market you can chat with the colorful locals or the Bendites who are blazing to the PDX airport. We don’t recommend the coffee, but I’m sure the bottled water is good to go.
Now for the best part: The next 10 miles are dirt roads, single track and old railway grade along the Deschutes River with one continuous “oh my god” view. The two miles of singletrack have short rocky sections, some so close to the water that you are going swimming if you crash. Look for the bald and golden eagles. And just yell, “Yip! Yip!” to move the cows off the trail; they seem well trained.
Eventually you end up at Trout Creek campground, where you leave the river and wind up to the main gate for Trout Creek Ranch.
From here, zip through the one-lane tunnel, up a steep grade (15+ %) with an intermediate respite at Gateway, and then onto the rim summit via the Gateway grade where you get booming views of the mountains to the west. From here it is a nearly straight line paved route, through farming country, back to the air museum.
You can add in an additional seven miles of out and back by going out to the homestead from 1890 on Trout Creek Ranch (at ~ mile 27). Read the signs to determine if access is currently allowed. If so, hop the gate and give it a go. It’s a beautiful ride, rocky gravel.
This route can be notorious for “Goat Heads”. Of the nine times we have ridden the route, one time was really, really bad. Come prepared! Tubeless tires only with fresh sealant.
Adventure / Gravel Route
– Loop : 42 miles / 1900 ft gain
– Surface: ~ 9% gravel road, 27% double track, 6% single track, 58% paved
– eBike Friendly: No
– Location: Madras, OR
– Course by: Gravel Girl
– Published: April 2018 (updated October 2019)
Advanced. Due to the 16+ miles of single track / double track, the short but steep climb out of Trout Creek Ranch where the grade exceeds 15% for 0.5+ miles, and the two bike carries over cattle control barriers / fences.
When we like to ride this …
The route offers up spectacular beauty most of the year and it “goes” as long as the conditions are relatively dry. See the dates of the comments below for when it is rideable. We would avoid it in the heat of the summer.
Erickson Aircraft Collection / Museum. Park in the dirt lot on the north side of the building. Flush toilets and water.
Lat / Long: 44.671074, -121.149324
Food / Water
@ mile 10, Fraser’s Market (seasonal) / @ mile 16, Rainbow Market
Red = paved road
Brown = gravel road / dirt road / double track
Blue = single track
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